Disclaimer: The story below contains details of residential schools which can be upsetting. The Crisis Line for Families and Residential School Survivors in Canada is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.
Canada’s federal government will release thousands of previously undisclosed documents related to its residential school system, the country’s Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Marc Miller Recount The Globe and Mail newspaper.
The newspaper reported on Monday that the documents would be delivered at the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation, a research and educational organization at the University of Manitoba in central Canada.
Miller told The Globe that withholding the document violates Ottawa’s “moral duty” to school survivors, as more than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children were forced to attend across Canada between late. from the 1800s and 1990s.
Children have been stripped of their language and culture, separated from their siblings and subjected to psychological, physical and sexual abuse.
Thousands of people are believed to have died while frequenting the facilities – and the discovery this year of more than 1,200 anonymous graves at several old school sites has prompted many calls to uncover the truth and demand accountability for what happened.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised financial and other support to help indigenous communities find more anonymous graves and remedy lasting damage to the system.
A federal commission of inquiry into institutions, known as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), concluded in 2015 that Canada’s residential school system amounted to “cultural genocide.”
The Native Women’s Association of Canada hailed Monday’s report on the release of government documents, calling it “a monumental step towards truth and reconciliation.”
The Government of Canada “has realized that withholding the thousands of undisclosed documents from the residential schools is contrary to Ottawa’s ‘moral duty’ to the survivors. Now we need full disclosure of documents held by the Catholic Church, ”the group wrote on Twitter.
The Globe and Mail said the federal government residential school records would be delivered in about 30 to 45 days.
Miller said they had not previously been disclosed “due to third party obligations” to Catholic institutions. Although the Canadian government implemented the residential school system, the Catholic Church ran the majority of institutions.
“We have to work with these Catholic institutions to achieve this closure for the survivors,” the minister told the newspaper.
Indigenous leaders and residential school survivors have called on the Catholic Church to release its own residential school records and demanded that Pope Francis apologize for abuses that have occurred in institutions run by the church. So far, no apology has been offered.
News of the release of federal government records also comes as First Nations, Inuit and Métis delegates are expected meet the Pope at the Vatican later this month.
“The journey towards healing and reconciliation is long, but we believe it will be an important step in the commitment of the Catholic Church to renew, strengthen and reconcile relationships with Indigenous peoples across the country”, Raymond Poisson , president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said of the December 17-20 meetings.
Some residential school survivors are demanding more than an apology, however.
“I want the Pope to give me a plan,” Dakota elder and residential school survivor Wanbdi Wakita of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation recently told CBC News. Wakita suffered abuse at two residential schools in Manitoba that he attended for eight years, the Canadian broadcaster reported.
“Here are all the wrongs, how are you going to right those wrongs?” Put it on a piece of paper and sign it, ”he said.
A monumental step towards truth and reconciliation, the #GoC realized that withholding the thousands of undisclosed documents from the residential schools violated Ottawa’s “moral duty” to survivors. Now we need full disclosure of documents held by the Catholic Church.https://t.co/d1xmQJwTTH
– AFAC (@NWAC_CA) December 6, 2021